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The Resource Center Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

How To Securely Upgrade Your Mobile Device

Protect yourself against identity theft by wiping your mobile device before upgrading to a new one.

Protect yourself against identity theft by wiping your mobile device before upgrading to a new one.

If you’re planning on buying a new cell phone, tablet or laptop, it’s important that you know how to securely wipe the data off your old device to avoid identity theft.

Your old technology may seem insignificant to you, but these out-of-date, discarded devices are in high demand by identity thieves. Criminals want to gain possession of your old technology so they can steal your personal information and exploit your identity. Here’s what you can do to secure your data:

  • Double check: After you’ve erased your information, it’s always a good idea to double check that all your data has been removed from your device. Go through and look at the contact list, call log, voicemail, emails, text messages, downloads, search histories and photos. All of this information should be cleared after you’ve wiped your device. If it’s not, consult an employee where you purchased the device and ask how you can remove all the data.
  • Encrypt before you wipe: Before you reset your device, make sure the data is encrypted. This makes information difficult for hackers to read, should there be any residual information on the device after you’ve wiped it. Apple devices begin encrypting your data automatically after you set up the passcode or fingerprint id feature for login. If you have a non-Apple device, you can purchase anti-theft software that will encrypt your data for you.
  • Remove apps: Delete all the extra applications you’ve downloaded to your device, even if they’re only games. It’s best to be thorough and over-cautious in these situations.
  • SIM card: Many cell phones store data externally as well as internally. When you use the device’s factory reset function, you’re erasing internal data. To erase the external storage, which could include photos, contact information, call logs and your Personal Identification Numbers (PIN), you’ll have to remove the SIM and/or SD card. If you must include your card when you donate or sell your device, you have to erase the card through the Settings app, or by connecting it to a PC.
  • Wipe data: Transfer your information to your new device, then use the factory reset function on your old one to wipe your personalized settings and history.

It’s always exciting to swap out your old device for a brand new one with better features and faster functions. Just make sure to do your due diligence before you sell or donate your old device.

After you dispose of your old device, you should also change your passwords to make your defenses as strong as possible. Create a unique password for each account, and try to include numbers and symbols without using common phrases or personal information that could be discovered through your online activity. If you need help keeping track of all your new passwords, try using a password safe to keep your information secure but also accessible.